Archive for the ‘AA’s Quest for Pitchers’ Category

trippingolney

The title is probably all you need to know about this one. Especially since it’s just, like, Buster’s opinion, man. But here’s what was said in his piece today at ESPN.com (Insider Olney).

The Blue Jays appear to hold the commanding position in the free-agent pitching market that remains, to the degree that Toronto is like a beer vendor inside the Super Bowl site.

If anybody wanted something to drink at MetLife Stadium, they had to deal with the vendors’ terms. Similarly, Toronto can just sit back and wait for one of them to agree to its terms. The Blue Jays need a starting pitcher and are willing to pay, and because there are so many free-agent starters available, one of them will need Toronto, whether it’s Santana or Jimenez or A.J. Burnett.

Dude, nothing is fucked. Come on.

Everything seems to be going entirely according to plan… sort of. Provided the Jays’ plan all along was to get whatever half-decent free agent pitcher comes for the cheapest and the shortest term. Which isn’t really a bad plan when you get right down to it. It’s just… it sure had better work.

I don’t know. We know all this.

Funny, though, that Olney would be referring to beer price gouging at the Super Bowl, considering that, according to this pic, it wasn’t far off what beer goes for at Rogers Centre (keeping in mind that the bottles seen there are of the 473 ml variety, which is the same size as a domestic tallboy). But… we know all this, too. Hey, and price gouging seems to be our thing in this province when it comes to beer.

So… yeah. That’s all I got.

Still, though, ”commanding position”!!! “Willing to pay”!!! Beats talking about Brent Morel, at least.

Or is it Brett Morel?

 

Image via the great @TRIPPINGOLNEY.

santanaheavens

Somebody just SIGN me already!!!

Welp. We really are back to square one this off-season, aren’t we? Sure, Tanaka and Garza are off the market, as are a whole hell of a lot of other names, but in a lot of ways it might as well be November, because that seems to be about where the rumour mill is at. And maybe the pitching market, too, if the latest on Ervin Santana from Chris Cotillo at MLB Daily Dish is to be believed.

According to Cotillo’s source, Santana is now drawing interest from several teams, the Rockies, Orioles, Mariners, Yankees, and Dodgers chief among them, with the Cubs and Marlins on the periphery, and the Diamondbacks, Royals, Tigers, and Jays still expected to become involved in a process that’s reportedly “still early.”

Still early!

Of course, it’s not terribly difficult to see whose interest it would be in to suggest that some kind of bidding war may be heating up. And if that’s the case, there seems to be one club in particular being nudged to make a deal — albeit from a different source, according to how Cotillo’s piece reads:

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garza

Another one bites the dust. And this one, in particular, was a name that Alex Anthopoulos has reportedly chased for quite some time. Or, at least, who we’ve been passing along rumours about for probably three years, as today we learned that Matt Garza has signed with the Milwaukee Brewers for four years and $52-million.

Ken Rosenthal had it first, tweeting that a physical is still pending, which could be a thing, but probably won’t be.

Like all of the remaining free agents, there were warts on Garza. His medicals, in particular, have been rumoured to be fairly ugly, and over the last three seasons he’s only made 12 more starts than Brandon Morrow, who certain Jays fans seem to think is made of breakaway glass (even though that’s, y’know, dumb). You don’t hear him get a lot of high marks for his off-field stuff, either, but when Garza’s been healthy, he’s certainly been effective, posting sub-4.00 ERAs in seven straight seasons.

The ERA stuff doesn’t exactly translate into great advanced numbers all the time, though. He was worth 2.2 wins, per FanGraphs this year, and 1.1 the year before. Baseball Reference has him at just 1.2 and 1.4 wins for 2012 and 2013, though their calculations like his 2011 season a bit more (2.9) — and that’s not nearly as much as the FIP-based FanGraphs one did (4.9).

Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez, who we still all believe the Jays are eyeing (as they damn well should be), have been much healthier over their careers and have been much better more recently. Aaaaand they’ve also been much worse. By now, I’m sure you know the story. (If you don’t, I wrote about it here — just scroll past the Tanaka pipe dreaming).

We’ve never really thought the Jays were going to go as hard after Garza as they would the more durable, and deeply-discounted (thanks to draft pick compensation) pair, and now we’re hopefully seeing why Alex Anthopoulos has been playing an infuriatingly frustrating waiting game this winter. Just $13-million per year for four years is the best Garza could do, with no draft pick tied to him? It’s actually exactly almost exactly in line with the results of the contract crowdsourcing project at FanGraphs – they had Garza getting four years and $58.7-million, and had Jimenez and Santana not getting even that much — but hardly the kind of big number we were hearing rumoured on some of these guys earlier in the off-season. And as much as the medicals certainly must have made teams queasy here, surely there must be about as much concern about Ubaldo’s year-and-a-half in the lost-velocity/unrepeatable-mechanics wilderness, and Santana’s 39-home-runs-in-a-damn-pitcher’s-park disaster of 2012.

Could a GM justify giving even that much to either of those two, and giving up a draft pick, when they wouldn’t on Garza? Maybe. And maybe they’ll find some added leverage with one less pitcher on the market. But I have a hard time believing it, especially if we’re talking about a team who’d have to give up a first-rounder — which, of course, the Jays won’t. Anthopoulos then, is perhaps exactly where we’ve thought all along that he wanted to be, with the market playing out exactly as he expected.

I’m not sure if fans ought to jump for joy because the team seems poised to get a pitcher on a contract far less than his original expectations — Jeff Passan tweets that as recently as a week ago Santana’s price had gone down to just a $60-million, four-year deal, which at this point seems highly unlikely — but if that’s what it’s going to take for the Jays to just sign a damn guy and not stand pat or blow more prospect capital trying for one, or maybe two last humps with this uncertain roster, you kinda can’t help but not.

Now they’ve just got to go out and actually do it. (And then add a second baseman, too.)

tanaka

Is this getting to be a bit much?

At this point it almost feels as though I’m continuing to bang the drum for us to keep the Tanaka pipe dream alive mostly because of how awesome it would be if it turned out I was actually right to — and, of course, how awesome it would be if the club actually managed to pull off signing him. It’s still a massive long shot, for all the reasons that are by now well-understood — geography, the team’s lack of recent success, Toronto’s small Japanese community, strong-willed and übber-rich competition for his signature, and the club’s own reluctance to do deals of the size that it’s going to take to land him — but you don’t have to look much beyond the Mariners’ deal with Robinson Cano to see how those sorts of issues can be overcome with gigantic piles of cash.

It wouldn’t be very much like these Toronto Blue Jays to go as all-in as it would take, and it’s not really up to them either, but the possibility, however remote, certainly exists that this is more than just the fantastical delusion of idle fans. At least, that’s what an unnamed agent who spoke to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish thinks:

One agent said that the Yankees, Dodgers and Blue Jays were involved when asked what he had heard about Tanaka. Although reports from Toronto made the Jays seem like an unlikely destination, the agent said that the “Jays are in for sure”.

Feel free to roll your eyes. I mean… I get it. After the whole Yu Darvish thing of a couple years ago — and how impossibly awfully that’s worked out for every team but the Rangers — nobody really has the wherewithal to raise their hopes on this one, knowing how utterly likely it is that they’ll come crashing down by Friday’s 5 PM ET deadline. But there really isn’t much reason to believe that the Jays are out just yet, no matter what Nikkan says, or what the local media will blindly insist about “The Policy” ruling the club out automatically– or what the club may claim after the fact.

Still far more likely than not that they won’t come close to landing Tanaka, but I’m definitely not done watching.

aasquest2

Alex Anthopoulos hit the radio waves here in the Centre of the Universe this evening, jumping on the Fan 590 with Bob McCown and Stephen Brunt to… um… well, not for any particular reason, it would seem, but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t have a few interesting things to say. Of course, with Anthopoulos, what’s important can often be about what wasn’t said… I think. Maybe I just made that up. But for today, at least, if you’re like me and want to keep on pipe dreamin’ for at least another week about the possibility of Masahiro Tanaka, it was definitely probably true.

Meaning: he certainly didn’t indicate that they’re out of the running for the Japanese ace. Because I’m not delusional I expect that they eventually will be, but he didn’t deny a thing. Not even in the “Hello, Mr. Thompson” kind of way that he’ll often use to prod us to read between the lines.

That said, he didn’t offer a whole lot of anything concrete, speaking, as he often does, in the strictest of general terms. But that’s not to say he didn’t provide us with plenty of food for thought.

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tanaka

Let’s not go too crazy with this one, because the back-end of the sentence that’s quoted in the title is “but there was no word they had a meeting planned as of yet,” and there are many other teams who reportedly do have meetings set — the Dodgers, Angels, Cubs, Yankees, White Sox, and Diamondbacks. But according to the latest from Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, “the Jays are among several others teams to have had multiple discussions with team Tanaka.”

The Yu Darvish thing this is obviously not — the Jays seem firmly on the perceived periphery of the situation, as would be entirely expected of a club who does their due diligence on everyone available — but it’s certainly interesting, given the club’s need, lack of other activity so far, and ownership’s obvious willingness to invest in sports beyond simply reinvesting earned revenue (hello $100-million on soccer players!) despite what we’ve often been told.

There are, of course, also the less-than-entirely-credible rumblings we’ve heard about the Jays being very much in pursuit of the Japanese ace, about whom one executive even goes as far as telling Heyman is “the better pitcher” when compared to his countryman, Darvish.

Well this is just getting nutty, isn’t it?

No, not Darvish nutty. Not yet. And I’m sure Anthopoulos and Beeston are hoping that it never does get to that level. And perhaps for a more favourable outcome than two years ago as well!

So… there’s that.

tanaka-ubaldo-santana

Blue Jays Plus has once again done some excellent digging around with sources purported to have knowledge of the inner workings of the Jays, revealing on Monday that “multiple major league sources” are saying the club is “heavy on Masahiro Tanaka, along with the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers.”

It would be easy to scoff — none of the major media outlets in this city have reported as much, including ones from the supremely-connected outlet that shares an owner with the club itself — but I kinda can’t, because I’ve actually heard some of the same types of things myself. That shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has noticed my unwillingness to be dismissive of the club’s chances on Tanaka, or some of the comments I’ve made over the course of an increasingly anxious winter. I don’t know how much I believe it, but I definitely believe that even if it was true, the Jays would be real mum about it — more mum than this, you’d kinda think — given what happened the last time a notable Japanese player was posted. But it is what it is.

Now, does the fact that people from two blogs have heard rumblings that the Jays are far more interested in Tanaka than they have allowed to be publicly known mean that it’s necessarily true? Shitballs no. Especially given that we’re talking about a club with a secrecy-loving general manager who can have it suggested, without anyone blinking an eye, that “sometimes his own talent evaluators don’t know what he’s doing,” as Nick Cafardo did in his latest for the Boston Globe back on Sunday. And it certainly doesn’t mean that, even if they are more deeply in pursuit than seems plausible to most, that the Jays would actually be able to outbid a determined New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers, given the disparity in the kinds of financial resources it’s believed are available to each club.

We all know who owns the Jays, though. And there are many levels on which it makes sense to at least try, and try really fucking hard.

Tanaka is the best free agent available in the area of the Jays’ biggest (or, let’s be honest, second-biggest) concern; he’s a supremely young free agent, as he’ll pitch 2014 as a 25-year-old; he’s a supremely talented player, who Baseball America ranks behind just three prospects in all of baseball; he costs no draft pick and nothing in terms of young talent to acquire; maybe best of all, swiping him from the clutches of the Yankees would be a tremendous win, not unlike the Mariners’ swoop for Robinson Cano, that would instantly undo so much of the grief of a stagnant off-season, and go a long way towards re-energizing a fan base beaten so badly down by a thoroughly dispiriting 2013.

The beauty is, too, that if, as you’d completely expect, they come up short in this supposedly-heavy pursuit, it’s not like they don’t have contingencies waiting for them, either. Specific ones, according to Blue Jays Plus.

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